FAQs

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FAQs2019-11-18T12:36:47-07:00
What is the “real metal” you use?2019-11-18T12:23:14-07:00

We use a proven cold applied spray that is up to seventy-five percent real metal. After application, it has all the properties of cast or sheet metal. The metal, when professionally applied is reliable, and extremely durable, and is used all over the world for interior and exterior projects.

Why doesn’t the real metal corrode or oxidize?2019-11-18T12:25:13-07:00

The answers are “it would, except”, and “it does anyhow”. The metal coating will change, oxidize, or patina with time unless shielded from the atmosphere and elements by a protective coating. We use an extremely high-quality, marine grade, clear lacquer coating on every sign or plaque. “Marine Grade” means that the coating is designed to stand up to harsh coastal salt spray environments.

The lacquer is specifically designed to protect metal surfaces in extreme exterior environments. The manufacturer states that it “should give satisfactory exterior protection for at least ten years under normal conditions. Considerably longer life is expected.”  Our experience has been very favorable with this fine and expensive product.

What is a “Living Finish”?2019-11-18T12:25:17-07:00

Metal, regardless of how well protected is a “living finish”. Meaning that you may notice slow changes over time, even though the metal is protected with a clearcoat. They are indeed alive, and become more beautiful and interesting with age.

Our “Verdi” and “Iron Rust” finishes are more alive than the others. We specifically hurry the natural aging process on these finishes rather than asking you to wait years for the natural aged patina look to develop. Even our high quality clearcoats won’t completely halt the aging process. The result is that you may notice some staining to your mounting surface or below the sign.

Will my sign require any maintenance to keep its original color and surface?2019-11-18T12:25:24-07:00

We complete all plaques with multiple coats of a quality, marine grade finish. (See the preceding two questions for additional insight.) You should expect some changes, especially with the Verdi and Iron Rust finishes. Although it is not necessary, and not recommended by Atlas, you can apply a quality wax finish periodically. If you do, you are on your own and need be careful with the amount so you don’t get a buildup in the corners, use only soft application and polishing brushes/cloths, and take care not to knock the plaque off the wall.

How close will my sign look to the ones pictured in your online catalog?2019-11-18T12:26:54-07:00

Pretty close, but not exactly. There are several reasons for this. One, the materials that we receive from our suppliers vary from lot to lot. Two, our process is as much art as science. Each artisan that works on your plaque has a slightly different “hand” which affects the final outcome. Three, temperature, humidity, and we think, the position of the planets influences the finished product. Four, we change our materials and techniques over time. These changes result in an improved product, but may slightly change the look of the sign or plaque. Five, there are variables in the rendition of the image you see on your computer screen. This starts at our end with photo lighting, the camera used, and how we see the plaque photograph on our own computer screen. On your end, every computer renders color differently. This is normal for uncalibrated home and business computers.

Bottom line one is that you may or may not see differences. Bottom line two is that we can’t do anything about all these variables.

A Note For Multiple Orders. As should be clear from the above paragraphs, it is the nature of hand finishing that no two patinas are exactly alike. However, with multiple orders, care is taken to match tone and texture as closely as possible. Multiple sign orders will match very close provided they are ordered and created all at the same time. Those ordered at different times may have a little variation, however, unless they are placed side by side, you are unlikely to notice.

Why are your prices for plaques and signs so much less than others?2019-11-18T12:27:16-07:00

Three reasons for this. 1) Our signs and plaques have a high-density-urethane (HDU) base. HDU was developed for the aerospace industry and has been used for signs for forty years. Most exterior signs that look like wood, and many that look like solid cast metal, are actually HDU which is very cost effective. 2) We coat the HDU base material with real metal which gives the look and feel of foundry piece without the weight. 3) We keep our overhead low by producing everything ourselves. We don’t have commissioned salespersons or a dealer network that would have to be supported with high prices.

What you do get at our terrific price is a hand-crafted creation made just for you. The process of making your sign or plaque only begins when your order is placed. What you don’t get is something that is “massed produced” in bulk, stocked on a shelf, and shipped quickly to you.

Can I get a discount because I (We) are a ……(Fill in the Blank)2019-11-18T12:27:35-07:00

No. Discounts for some mean that others are paying more.

We are often asked to discount our already low prices because the purchaser is a non-profit, church, or just nice people that would like to pay less. The real question that we all want to know when we ask for a discount is:  Is someone going to pay less than I am? At Atlas the answer is “no”. Everybody pays the same – just like a can of corn or a gallon of gas. It is the most fair method we can think of.

Why does shipping cost so much?2019-11-18T12:27:57-07:00

There are two possible explanations, and you get to choose the one you want to believe.

1) We have found that FedEx gives the best combination of service and care to your package. Although FedEx is not the least cost, in our opinion, it is the best value. Additionally, Atlas uses new quality boxes and lots of new packing material to pad and protect your shipment. This all adds up to real dollars. The dollar amount of shipping relative to the cost of your plaque is going to be less on larger orders, and greater with smaller orders. As online shoppers ourselves, we understand that shipping can seem excessive, especially on small orders. We are always seeking greater efficiencies and will pass savings as they occur on to you, our customer. As a result, we now ship smaller items via USPS and use flat rate pricing overall. Please don’t ask us to reduce the amount of shipping we charge or to ship for free. We would either have to cut corners on packaging, raise our sign prices to pretend that shipping was free, or charge others more to subsidize your reduced rate.

2) I have my eye on a Porsche 911. Not the cheap one, but the one for $264,000.00, give or take depending on the interior trim. I asked for free shipping, but they just snickered in that pretentious way that is taught at Porsche Sales School, and walked away. Their snickers were well deserved since I really couldn’t afford the car anyhow (yet). But I want it, so my plan is to rip off each of my customers one buck per sign on shipping. After today, I only need to overcharge 263,999 more times. The haughty Porsche Sales Guy is waiting patiently. He has got to eat too. When I order, I am still going to ask for free shipping, and if I don’t get it, I will be off to the Ford Dealership. I don’t like the cars but they might throw in the shipping for free.

Sorry to break the news to you, but shipping is included in the price of absolutely everything that you buy. Just because you don’t see it upfront, you must realize that that even that can of diet coke, banana, birdcage, or pack of copy paper that you purchase has a shipping cost attached to the price. Atlas, like most e-commerce businesses, separates the cost of the product from the cost of the shipping. If you live in Tanzania your shipping cost is going to be greater than if you live in Illinois. Those are the facts and we won’t sugar coat them for the illusion of free shipping.

Additionally we use new quality boxes and lots of new packing material to protect your order. These items are expensive and add to the shipping weight that you pay for. We ship mainly FedEx. We use fairly large boxes to further protect your plaque and all shippers use an implied weight based upon box size that can dramatically, though artificially, increase the shipping weight that you pay for.

I just want it a little bigger, why does it cost so much more?2019-11-18T12:28:17-07:00

It is just the way math works. Examples to follow. We price our signs and plaques using some math and some magic. Two signs of equal size are not normally the same price. Our pricing is dependent upon not only size, but on the font used (we often spend a lot of money for the rights to use a particular font), complexity of design, amount of hand finishing required, and other secret stuff that we won’t divulge.

Back to the math. Whether a rectangle or a circle, increasing the size by, let’s say, 10%, actually increases the area, and therefore the amount of materials we use by 21%. A plaque that is originally 10 inches square would be 100 square inches. Increasing that size by 10% makes a sign that is 11 x 11 inches. Do the math and the new size is 121 square inches. Or 21% greater in area. Therefore, you should expect the new price to be about 21% greater for a plaque that has only been super-sized by a lousy 10%. Don’t hold us to the 21% rule, as there are other mysterious factors involved here.

I want a plaque in a vertical rather than horizontal format. Will it cost the same?2019-11-18T12:28:36-07:00

No, It will likely be larger and cost more. Vertical signs get larger because letters and numbers, in virtually every font, are taller than they are wide. When our designers actually design the custom vertical plaque, they almost always end up larger. It is just a fact of life!

We really try to quantify all of the variables in our price structure to give our clients the very best value for their purchase price. Some changes or modifications to our existing catalog of plaques just add more expense to our cost structure than might not be apparent to our clients. We do make every attempt to maintain sanity to our prices, and will not take advantage of your request to gouge your wallet.

How many times can I have you make design changes? When do you charge for design work?2019-11-18T12:28:57-07:00

If you desire a plaque, sign, or address numbers, simply start by selecting from one of our online choices. It is best to have us customize an existing example in our online catalog to speed the design process so you can receive your plaque sooner. If one of our existing plaques is close and only needs a couple of minor changes, let us know and we will get you a proof with a couple of variations from which to choose. You choose and your creation will go to our shop for production.

If you want something that we have not yet created, we are thrilled to work with you so you can have it your way. Our designers will take your idea and give you a number of different ideas from which to choose. Our prices are kept reasonable because we control our expenses and overhead. We do not have a huge profit margin to support “free” (read as “included in everyone else’s price”) services. Sometimes it is just difficult to make the final decision. If you find yourself in that position, we will be happy to keep working with you. It will be necessary to make a PayPal transaction, and complete further design work at our $96.00 per hour rate (less than your auto mechanic, and a fraction of your plumber’s hourly rate). So to be clear, you get 2 designs with variations for free, then we must charge for further work.

Can I supply my own artwork and graphics?2019-11-18T12:29:17-07:00

Yes. We can convert most any file type into a format that is usable to our equipment. Since each line is seen by our computer programs, the design and letters must be vectorized and made smooth. Additionally, we often need to adjust the letter kerning for a better look and to have a little separation between each, non-script, letter. Be aware that we often receive well-intentioned graphics that contain elements such as line over-laps, loops, or other issues that would not be a problem for printing, but are problematic for our equipment. We will do some graphic clean-up work for free, but will let you know if additional charges will be necessary to make the design work for a sign or plaque.

Let us know what you are sending and we can work with you to get the look you desire. We can not use graphics, photographs, or elements that belong to someone else. So, be certain of your source and realize that we could ask you to provide proof of ownership or a release in some situations.

For those desiring to submit their own artwork, please read the following:2019-11-18T12:29:39-07:00

We love making signs and plaques uniquely yours, and we hate charging an arm and a leg to do it.

We often receive artwork or ideas from clients who desire a personalized custom sign, but send artwork and files that we just cannot use. This is both disappointing and time consuming for all parties.

There are two solutions for this. The option that no one likes is for our designers to totally recreate the submitted artwork in a file type that we can use. The downside to this is that we must charge $75 per hour, and impose a $75 minimum fee for this service. Firm quote will be given when you send artwork.

The best option is for us to receive your ideas in a file format that we can use or convert. The following is a list of acceptable formats.

They are: Adobe Illustrator (ai), EPS, or vectorized PDF. (Vectorized PDF means that the file was created in Illustrator and then saved as a PDF.) Some CAD/CAM formats (DWG or DXF) are usually ok.

However, even these acceptable file formats are not without some conditions.

All text must be converted to outlines. Artwork should be vectorized. Rasterized images (common to photo editing software) are not acceptable.  Caution should be used to assure that lines are joined (welded), and that there are not multiple overlaid lines. Embedded or linked files are equally unacceptable.

List of definitely unacceptable formats:
GIF, JPG, TIFF, BMP, PCX, Microsoft Powerpoint (PPT),  Microsoft Word (DOC), Adobe Photoshop (PSD), Quark (QXD) Pagemaker, or any other text or word processor program.

A further condition is we cannot “blow up” an image (make it larger) without sacrificing clarity. We can always remove pixels to make the image smaller, but cannot add pixels and maintain resolution. Neither can you, so don’t do that and send us the file, it won’t work.

Are there limits on letter or graphic sizes?2019-11-18T12:29:58-07:00

Letters should be a minimum of .25(ish)” and lines should be minimum of .125″ width. Lines should should be slightly rounded or squared off. Due to our coating process, some distortion of extreme detail may occur in the finished product.

Where do you get your artwork and graphics?2019-11-18T12:30:22-07:00

Our artists often create original art graphics just for you. To speed the process and keep our prices low, we use fonts and graphics from a variety of sources. We have our own extensive library and subscribe to a number of different services. Our fonts and graphics are original, licensed to us for use, or are in the public domain. We won’t intentionally cheat someone by stealing their talent and effort.

My sign got dropped or damaged. Can I repair it?2019-11-18T12:30:42-07:00

Starting with a summary:  One, signs from Atlas can break when they are dropped or blown off the building by wind. Two, repairs will never be “as good as new”. Three, repairs don’t always work.

If you chip the finish or ding a corner, try a little black marker, carefully applied paint, or whatever. Be creative, you will be surprised at what can disappear once the light colored HDU substrate is not glaring at you.

If your sign is broken and you want to attempt a repair, here is what to use and how to do it:  The only glue that will work is polyurethane adhesive, with the most popular and well-know polyurethane adhesive being the brand name Gorilla Glue. It is important to decide first how you will hold the pieces together so practice with clamps, straps, tape, or as a last resort hand pressure.

Polyurethane adhesive has some properties that effect its use. It is activated by moisture, and it expands into a bubbly froth as it sets. (expansion can be up to 4 times original volume). So, lightly mist both surfaces with water and spread a little glue keeping in mind the serious expansion. Secure the pieces and try not to disturb. You may use water to clean up the plaque face but never any kind of solvent or thinner.

There is a fine line between too much glue and not enough. Not enough will not hold the pieces together and too much will make it a mess. You could use some blue painters tape or some low adhesive tape to protect the face if the glue was to expand. This “might” keep the surface of the sign from getting full of glue.

Last point and most important. The above is purely informational and a suggestion only. See the summary above.

Where do I find a bracket for my hanging sign?2019-11-18T12:31:13-07:00

We make a fine selection of stakes, posts, hooks, finials, and brackets available on our website. When your order includes these, we will complete your sign so that final mounting will be easy. We have found a source for our mounting hardware that is Made in America. Atlas only uses products and materials that are Made in the USA, so we are reluctant to purchase from the chain home stores and, of course encourage you to use domestically manufactured mounting hardware.

If you don’t purchase from us, we prefer that you support your community by contacting your local wrought iron craftsperson to have one made. Just let us know the dimensions and we will install “Eye” bolts or other hardware to match your mounting situation.

What is your shipping time?2019-11-18T12:31:37-07:00

We are usually able to ship in 3 weeks (“about” means “about”) after final design, artwork approval and payment. Our normal shipping method is FedEx, UPS or USPS, insured and trackable. Our signs and plaques ships from zip code 81416, Delta, Colorado. Shipping times are 1-5 days. Shipments to Canada can take up to 2 weeks. Shipments to other countries will likely take longer.

We do not make firm promises of plaque completion time. We do not make firm promises of delivery date. Things happen. Our suppliers don’t ship, things break, power goes out, trucking company doesn’t show up, blizzards occur, tornadoes happen, people get sick, cars break down, life happens, etc, etc. We will do our best at our facility, but once it leaves us, we have no control of the shippers and customs whatsoever.

What if I want my sign or plaque sooner?2019-11-18T12:31:56-07:00

If you have an urgent need, like a forgotten anniversary or holiday, call us. If it’s possible we’ll give you a firm quote and timetable for expedited service. Don’t expect it to be cheap, but if we make a promise we will keep it. Just bare in mind that each item is handcrafted by us in Colorado and is not sitting on a shelf at some distribution center waiting for your order. We work hard to meet your expectations and will work nights and weekends and holidays to fulfill our commitment, but there are times when adverse weather or other unforeseen and unpredictable circumstances may cause a deadline to be exceeded.

Can I get a painted sign from you?2019-11-18T12:32:37-07:00

Kind of. We can include some color for a modest charge. We use One Shot Brand Sign Paint when we add a “splash” of color to our metal-coated signs. Metal coating is always the main part of the sign or plaque.

Can I change (x, y, or z) about the finish on my plaque?2019-11-18T12:32:56-07:00

We strive to be as accommodating as possible, and we love to experiment. However, our methods have been refined over time and produce what we feel is the best possible outcome. If you would like something different that we are able to do, please be aware that you may not like it as much and it may cause problems (such as less contrast leading to less readability). While we won’t say “I told you so,” we also probably won’t be able to fix it.

Can I get a photo or an etching on my plaque?2019-11-18T12:33:13-07:00

Photos are not currently in our repertoire of offerings. Etching is an entirely different process that we happily leave to your local jewelry or awards store.

How large should my house numbers be?2019-11-18T12:33:35-07:00

For readability, plan an absolute minimum of 1 1/2 inches per 50 feet of distance. You should also be certain of any minimum size or contrast requirement imposed by your local authorities. Many of our address plaques go to homes that also have an additional, official, fire or police number posted. So size would not an issue in these cases. In general, address numbers of 3 inches is a good scale. On a larger building, larger plaques will have a better scale and look.

You advertise that your product is Made in the USA. Do you use any foreign products?2019-11-18T12:34:03-07:00

Not intentionally. We shop hard in an attempt to assure that even the smallest items are Made in the USA. We also strive to purchase and use only tools and machines in our shop that are domestically produced. With that said, it is impossible to assure that every component measures up to our standards in this international economy. There are, no doubt, elements in our tools and equipment that have a foreign heritage. But we really try, and hope that you will also support your neighbors and community.

How much do plaques weigh?2019-11-18T12:34:26-07:00

Not much. But if you want to take it the next level, it is an easy computation that requires some basic math. We use 30-pound HDU Sign Foam as our substrate material. 30-pound density means that it weighs 30 pound per cubic foot, which is 12″ x 12″ x 12″. So, all we have to do is compute how many cubic feet of material is in your sign. As a simple example; a sign that measures 12″ x 12″ x 1″ thick would be 1/12 of a cubic foot. So would have a basic weight of 30 pounds divided by 12 which is 2.5 pounds. Then add about 1/2 pound for the metal coating and an allowance for mounting hardware and the weight computes to 3 pounds. If the plaque is 2 inches thick, the basic weight would double, and with the same additions, would weight about 5 1/2 pounds.

This computed weight is only for the sign itself and should not be considered the shipping weight. For shipping, the box and packing material is, of course, added. Additionally, all shippers use an implied weight based upon box size that can dramatically, though artificially, increase the shipping weight that you pay for.

Most signs from Atlas will not require structural alterations to your building.

I want a sign another size than what I see on your site? Can I get different sizes?2019-11-18T12:34:48-07:00

Yes. Email us your request for a special size. We will send you a price and link to how you can order your sign. Your next question is, How Much? We will let you know. Just remember that a “little bit bigger” is a lot more material. See the above section titled “I just want it a little bigger, why does it cost so much more?.” If the sign is an odd shape or has a lot of artwork then we might charge extra for a special size if we are unable to just upscale the design. Often it takes a lot of time (and we all know that time costs money) to make dramatic changes. But emails are free so email us your request. We might have you call with payment information or to work out specific issues.

What does “Handcrafted” mean?2019-11-18T12:35:10-07:00

Every sign or plaque created by Atlas Signs and Plaques is handcrafted, meaning made-by-hand. That means that your plaque is totally unique from every other, and has been “touched” by many different hands. Different hands mean that there are variations in the look and finish of your sign. Your plaque undergoes nine to eleven different steps before it is shipped to you. Each step imparts a level of uniqueness making every plaque a true one-of-a-kind customized purchase. Here is an interesting blog article about finish variations.

These normal variations, little bumps, waves, and other variations in the finish, that might be called defects by some, are part of the charm that only a handcrafted item can deliver.

At Atlas, we celebrate these variances. They make our creation, and your plaque, incomparable.

Do you have a store where I can see your products?2019-11-18T12:35:28-07:00

Right now we only offer our products online. As mentioned above, you can order samples if you’d like to see what we do before ordering. Stay tuned, we may be coming to stores soon so check back.

Can I put my sign in the ground?2019-11-18T12:35:47-07:00

Not if you want it to stay looking nice. Our signs are not meant to be walked on, mowed over, or weed whacked. They are very durable to the elements but not to mechanical damage and abuse.

Can I put my sign on the back of a bench?2019-11-18T12:36:06-07:00

We don’t recommend this either.  Our signs are 1” thick and therefore would be uncomfortable to lean against.  We suggest you go to a jeweler and get a thin metal plate engraved for this application.

How  – We Make Them
FAQ’S – Frequently Asked Questions
Installing – Options for you to choose, With pictures and video

Testimonials – See what others are saying
What Finish – Trying to decide the metal you like. Here you can find more detail.
Want Samples – This page you can buy them